Nine Golf Resolutions for the New Year
Against all odds and existential circumstances, 2020 will soon be behind us. All 65 months of it. But while some challenges of the past may follow us into the future, flipping the calendar brings fresh energy and resolutions for betterment during another trip around the sun.
So let’s put the past behind us and look forward to a brand new year. It is, of course, tradition to parlay the sugary energy gained from a season of pumpkin pies, gingerbread houses and eggnog into a month or two of hard work and focus. As you sit back and reflect on a year to come, resolve to improve yourself by including a few resolutions that can help your golf game as well.
In case you need some inspiration, here are nine ideas to help you enjoy your best golf year yet.
Golf Resolution #1 – Take One Stroke Off Your Handicap
Depending on your game, lowering the ‘cap might be easy, or it could be damn near impossible. So here’s a formula for golfers of all levels: resolve to take one stroke off your handicap for every 6 strokes above scratch you happen to be. So if you have a 6 handicap (good for you by the way), try to get it down to a 5. If you’re a weekend warrior hacking around at +18, try to knock a full 3 strokes off that bulbous number.
There are plenty of ways to accomplish this, but the early months of a new year make it difficult for golfers who don’t live in warmer climes. If that’s you (or you’re still locking it down until your vaccine number is called), try these tips for practicing golf at home to sharpen important skills while you wait for the thaw.
Pro Tip: Get analytical
One way to improve your game is to get analytical with it. Products like these Arccos Caddie Smart Grips provide a user-friendly way to collect thousands of data points from one round of strokes (regardless of where the ball lands). With the ability to break your swing down to its elements, you’ll see where your cadence needs improvement, and where you really need to focus your hard work and practice.
Golf Resolution #2 – Attend a PGA Tournament Event
Moving from work to play, 2021 seems purpose built for getting back out there (albeit with good social distancing and mask discipline). The last year challenged us in significant ways, and while the disruption to the sports calendar was merely an inconvenience, you’re likely to have a new appreciation for a spectator’s role. And thanks to the PGA Tour’s “Super Season”, you’ll have more chances to see live golf with the most events since 1975.
Depending on CDC guidance, vaccine availability, local restrictions, and common sense, travelling to an honest-to-goodness PGA event will take a bit of planning. Having been deprived of live sports for nearly a year, there could be a lot of competition to watch your favorite athletes compete in the flesh. So if you adopt this resolution, do your research, plan in advance, and buy refundable airfare.
Golf Resolution #3 – Start a Golf Tournament of Your Own
If going to a live PGA event isn’t in the cards, maybe 2021 is the year to start your own tournament. Afterall, golf is a sport steeped in tradition and what better year to start your own than the first of a new decade?
Get a group of friends together and have a “meeting” to discuss particulars – if you can accomplish this safely in-person, I’m sure gathering around an outdoor fire to discuss golf will be a welcome distraction. Pick a local course, or maybe one within responsible driving distance of your home base. Depending on the group, this could be a heated contest on your favorite goat track, or an esteemed affair at the country club your friend pays good money to patronize.
The key to a good tournament is a style that suits the skills and seriousness of all the invitees. Check out our definitive guide to golf betting games and choose a format that makes sense for you, then go the extra mile and add some annual hardware with a golf trophy customized for your event from our sister site, Golf Trophies & More. After a year of virtuality, a tangible trophy will add more to the memories than a few venmo transactions ever could.
Start a Tradition
If organizing a tournament seems a little above-and-beyond your organizational abilities, maybe start a bit smaller. You’re still going to need to decide on a location, time of year, and a core group, but your tradition does not need to be any more complicated than that. You might play best ball, or just go by the lowest score – winner drinks for free and has bragging rights for the year. Whatever you do, a tradition has to start somewhere, and 2021 is perfect for your origin story.
Golf Resolution #4 – Play a round outside of your home state
Along the lines of attending a PGA event is this particularly 2021 resolution. For many of us, this year has felt stuck in place (albeit safely). Assuming that some degree of normalcy returns in the new year, the simple act of driving across state lines to play 18 holes on “foreign” soil might be the revelatory taste of freedom that sparks joy in your golf game.
Want to make a long weekend out of it? Check out our guide to regional golf vacations for a list of must-play courses that don’t require airfare before you tee it up.
Golf Resolution #5 – Practice Your Short Game for 1 Hour a Week
Enough play, back to work. This is, after all, a New Year’s resolution article. While those of you in the Bryson DeChambeau school of power hitting may spend 2021 bulking up and becoming frenemies with your driver, we all know it’s the short game that really needs work. If Bernhard Langer’s performance in this past November Masters taught us anything, it’s drive for show and putt for that cut-making dough.
Whether you endeavor to put, chip or pitch better, practicing your short game will lead to the highest gains out on the course. It’s also the easiest way to practice golf at home. Adopt this resolution and come this time next year, you’ll be another year wiser and 52 hours better at golf.
Golf Resolution #6 – Organize your Golf Memories
Time has felt simultaneously distended and contracted throughout this strange year. Reflecting on this recently has emphasized just how important it is to preserve great golf memories.
From pictures of me spending time on the course with loved ones, to quirky golf collectibles that bring me right back to a specific time and place, good memories have helped keep my sanity during 2020. That’s why, in 2021, I want to personally do better at featuring them to enjoy any time I need a boost. Whether it’s pictures of a terrific outing at a bucket list course, a scorecard from a low round, or (fingers crossed) a hole-in-one trophy, a display cabinet or case from Great Golf Memories will bring organization and celebration into any room of your house.
Start a collection
One of the easiest ways to start compiling memories is to begin a collection. If saving every scorecard sounds like it would become a Hoarders situation in a few months, maybe golf pencils or logo golf balls can get your collectible juices flowing. In a world dominated by social media, having a physical representation of that trip you took to Pebble Beach, or the bachelor party you spent at the Waste Management Open can be all the push you need for a stroll down memory lane.
Read More: 5 Must Have Course Collectibles for Golfers
Golf Resolution #7 – Play 12 Rounds on the Same Course
That’s right, 12. In other words, one a month. Easy to do if you belong to a golf club, but not so much for the weekend warriors out there. If you can pull it off, you’ll benefit from getting a lot more cerebral with your game.
Aside from the cool factor of seeing your chosen course evolve through the seasons (and how those hardworking groundskeepers make adjustments to benefit play), you’ll start to appreciate each individual hole for the nuances it provides. This is about course management, and players who sporadically play different courses often find it hard to achieve. But playing the same course every month will give you some freedom to experiment with your game while you discover how each hole can be played a few different ways.
You don’t always have to bomb it off the tee, or fire at every green, or try to throw an approach shot in high and spin it back. Sometimes a three wood can put you in better position for an approach shot that you’re actually more comfortable with. Or a flattened 7 iron punch into a tiered green can be a more predictable play than firing a gap wedge at the pin.
Golf is almost as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Repeatable actions, seared into your muscle memory are only as good as the strategically-minded brain they’re connected to. And playing the same course 12 times next year will help you start to see a golf course for what it is: a series of holes to be played one shot at a time.
Golf Resolution #8 – Volunteer for a golf charity
If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s the importance of charity. To help others receive a modicum of the comfort that I experience, even during a pandemic, on a daily basis has become an important part of my life. But in 2021, I would urge you to seek out a charity and offer more than money – donate your time.
By sharing your love for golf with those who could benefit most from a 4-hour break from life, a walk in a gorgeous “park,” or just the meditative concentration it takes to line up a putt, you might find it brings you closer to the game and more appreciative of every second you get to spend playing it.
If you can’t find a golf-related charity that makes sense to you, there has to be a charity golf tournament you could join. Combining fundraising with the world’s best sport is a no-brainer for 2021. This year likely took a big toll on charities from coast to coast, and golf tournaments were undoubtedly made more difficult with virus restrictions and social distancing, so help these organizers rebound with strong showings in 2021.
Golf Resolution #9 – Break 100/90/80/70
The only fitting way to end a blog about golf resolutions is to set a new personal record in 2021. Whether it’s breaking 100 or finally getting around under 80, aspire to shoot your lowest score in the coming year. It’s easier said than done of course, but if you want my advice, this is all about the mental game of golf. You have the physical tools to go lower than you think, but the 5 inches between your ears is where you can see the quickest improvement.
Whether it’s a swing thought or rhythm adjustment, one positive mental thought (combined with improvements in your short game, per resolution #5), will cleave those errant strokes off the card, and fast. We featured a few golf performance books in a recent blog; as long as you’re waiting out the thaw, add one of these to your reading list and make this resolution a reality.
So there you have it, our nine golf related New Years resolutions. Do you have one we didn’t mention? Tell us about it in the comments!